Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oconee Farmers Market Launches Eighth Season Behind Eagle Tavern in Downtown Watkinsville

Lexi Has Birdhouses

Eleven vendors turned out yesterday for the first Oconee Farmers Market for the 2011 season to offer fresh greens, dried mushrooms, baked goods, soaps, lamb and beef, milk and eggs.

The Red Oak Southern String Band played what band leader Steve Pettis called “a mix of traditional bluegrass, folk and blues tunes as well more contemporary folk and blues music.”

The youngest vendor was Lexi, 6, who added birdhouses to her inventory from last year, which had included cut flowers and lemonade.

I heard Lexi talking about her new product and decided I had to have a recording of that. It is below, and I highly recommend you watch it.

The market opening was three weeks earlier this year than last, when the market opened on May 8. Nineteen vendors were on hand at that time.

The Red Oak Southern String Band has promised to return on May 7 of this year, in what the Market is calling the official Grand Opening of the season. More vendors are expected.

Pettis, who lives in Watkinsville, said his band has played together for more than 10 years. Left to right, in the video, are Brian Drake on mandolin, Jeff Buckley on banjo, Brian Foreman on guitar, Keith Weaver on base, and Pettis, also on guitar.

Singing duties yesterday were spread out among the various players.

Oconee Farmers Market began operation in 2004 in the front yard of the Eagle Tavern across from the courthouse but moved to the rear of the Tavern in 2009 to allow for more vendors and because the county sodded the grass in front of the historic tavern.

At one market last year 35 vendors had booths.

Watkinsville has agreed to close First Street behind Eagle Tavern to create additional space for vendors this year.

The markete opens at 8 a.m. and closes and 1 p.m.

Vendors pay 5 percent of their sales each week to sustain the market. The Market does not get any governmental support other than free use of the space behind Eagle Tavern.

Oconee Patch has begun a weekly Friday feature reporting on market offerings the following day, based on a survey the Market does of vendors each week.

The picture in the Patch story of one I took of Lexi’s stand on opening day last year.

I am the customer representative on the Market’s Board of Directors and have agreed to help with marketing and publicity.

I would have written this story even without that assignment. I couldn’t not write it once I heard the conversation Lexi had about her birdhouses.

Lexi does a better job of promoting the market than I could ever hope to do.